REFLECTIONS ON OUR YEAR IN TORONTO
Shabbat Shalom everyone. When we came to Beth Tikvah for the first time we were jet-lagged, confused, worried and frankly, rookies. But not surprisingly and very quickly we were embraced by your community. This year we wrote and delivered 21 Divrai Israel from this podium , trying every time to introduce to you different aspects and points of view of our amazing and complex homeland. The time has passed by so quickly, and we can’t believe that our time here is coming to an end. So with tears in our eyes, we would like to say thank you.
For us this “Shnat Sherut”, this year of service, started off as an opportunity to come here and volunteer our time and energy for the Jewish community in Toronto. Very quickly, however, we realized how much this year and all the unique experiences we had- gave us. We met extraordinary people, were put in challenging situations and learned so much from the different lifestyles here.
Some of the things that we think are very important for us to bring back home to Israel include the politeness of people, the struggle and will for maintaining Jewish life in the Diaspora, and the sense of community. A very big part of this gap year is not only what happens in these 12 months in Toronto, but also what happens afterwards. Shevet- an acronym for Shinshinim Bogrei Toronto, Alumni ShinShinim of Toronto, is exactly that. An alumni program that unites together all of the 100 plus past ShinShinim of the city, giving them, and soon us, opportunities in different workplaces or the army and communal support after this year. This program is one out of many reasons we are so happy and thankful that we were chosen to be in Toronto specifically, and we look forward to be a part of it pretty soon.
Last week we were thrilled to participate in the annual Walk With Israel, we all painted our faces blue and white and danced for hours to Israeli music in the streets of downtown Toronto. We must tell you how shocked we were to realize how huge this event was, with around twenty thousand participants from different backgrounds, all parading and celebrating Israel. Who would have thought that halfway around the globe an event like this takes place every single year? Aside from the million dollars raised to be sent to the country; the thought of so many people who want to come and support Israel, some who have never even been there, is mind boggling for us. And yet, not once in my 18 years of living in Israel have I ever heard that such an event takes place. How could that possibly be?
When we think of the relations between Jewish people in the Diaspora and Israelis today, unfortunately we are aware that somewhere along the way there is a gap. People here aren’t always aware of the real daily lives in Israel, and Israelis certainly are not aware of how much thought, care, and discussion are held about Israel outside of the country. We personally believe that something as huge and incredible as the Walk in Toronto, is a key-point that every Israeli should know about the Jewish Diaspora in general, and about Toronto’s community in particular. And that is why this year does not end with these 12 months for us. We are here to absorb life outside of our comfort zone and to bring it back into our own homes. We were always taken aback when we saw how involved everyone is here about Israel and that is one thing that we personally are setting as a goal to engage our families and friends with, when they ask us “What’s life like in Toronto?”.
Still shocked by how quickly time has gone by, Ronny and I are finishing up our different jobs in the city pretty soon. Beth Tikvah, Beth Emeth and Associated Danilack were all so amazing to work with. In a few weeks we both will head out to different summer camps- I am going to be staff at Camp Ramah and Ronny will be staff at Camp Solelim. We are both excited and nervous to experience what everyone has been bragging about since we got here, the idolized ultimate summer camp experience.
And then we’re heading back to Zion, to reunite with our friends and families and come back to our mothers’ cooking. In a few months we both will get drafted into the IDF, I’m going to serve as a pilot simulator instructor in the Air Force, and Noam is waiting for answers regarding his position. Root for us.
It’s really important for us to ask of you to keep in touch with us, we know that this experience here will probably be a part of our lives and who we are for a long time, and we really hope that maybe some of you could say the same the other way around. Feel free to contact us, reach out, tell us how you are and check in once in a while. Please always remember that now you forever have a home in Holon and in Zichron Ya’akov. Looking forward to seeing some of you soon someday, maybe in your future trips to Israel.
And now for the last and final time ever,
Todah Rabah, Shabbat Shalom v’Lehitraot. It was a pleasure!